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'Most perfect rainbow ... ever seen' appears over Seattle, fascinates onlookers

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
May 17, 2019, 3:14:43 PM EDT


Nothing brings people together like a double rainbow. The beautiful spectacle appeared over the Pacific Northwest sky on Tuesday evening, leaving many onlookers in the Seattle area in awe.

A double rainbow formed over the Emerald City after some light showers moved through western Washington on Tuesday afternoon.

The sun briefly popped out from behind the clouds early in the evening, leaving the breathtaking double rainbow visible to residents. Scattered showers and clouds moved back into the region later in the evening, according to the National Weather Service office in Seattle.

(Twitter photo/@josheanderson)

A double rainbow over Elliott Bay in Seattle, Washington, on Tuesday, May 15.

(Photo/Lori Hansen)

Lori Hansen captured the double rainbow from Laurelhurst in Seattle on Tuesday.

(Photo/Lori Hansen)

Lori Hansen captured the double rainbow from Laurelhurst in Seattle on Tuesday.

(Twitter photo/@caseybaksa)

A double rainbow over Seattle, Washington, on Tuesday evening.

(Twitter photo/@caseybaksa)

A double rainbow over Seattle, Washington, on Tuesday evening.

(Twitter photo/@SamuelAli)

"Sometimes you’re racing sailboats on Lake Union and you catch a double rainbow," Twitter user Samuel Ali writes in a tweet on Tuesday.

(Twitter photo/@pradDC)

A double rainbow captured from Lake Union in the Seattle area on early Tuesday evening.

(Twitter photo/@aeonbollig)

A double rainbow formed over Seattle on Tuesday.

(Twitter photo/@aeonbollig)

A double rainbow formed over Seattle on Tuesday.

(Instagram photo/@50storms)

A photo of a double rainbow captured in Seattle, Washington, on Tuesday.

(Twitter photo/@NWSSeattle)

A double rainbow formed over the Seattle area on Tuesday evening.

(Twitter photo/@NWSSeattle)

A double rainbow formed over the Seattle area on Tuesday evening.

(Twitter photo/@NWSSeattle)

A double rainbow formed over the Seattle area on Tuesday evening.

(Instagram photo/@masooma1117)

A double rainbow formed over Seattle on Tuesday evening.

(Twitter photo/@norasake)

A double rainbow formed over Seattle on Tuesday.

(Twitter photo/ @Ace_Unhacked)

"Hello Seattle! Thank you for welcoming us here with an awesome double rainbow," YouTuber Ace Unhacked said in a tweet on Tuesday.


The rainbow was visible throughout the city from the baseball fans at the Mariners game at T-Mobile Park to those sailing out on Lake Union to those driving home after a long day of work.

"Hello Seattle! Thank you for welcoming us here with an awesome double rainbow," Australian YouTuber Ace Unhacked writes on Twitter, as he was greeted to the notoriously rainy city by the double rainbow.

While this marvel drew attention from many on social media, double rainbows are certainly not rare, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Paul Walker. The Seattle area is more prone to these events due to the presence of rainy days.

While there are many places that receive more total precipitation than Seattle, there are often days on which the city receives 0.01 of an inch of rain, making the number of rainy days more in Seattle than places that actually get more rain. On average, the city experiences 152 rainy days a year, where rainfall is more than 0.01 of an inch of precipitation, according to Walker.

A double rainbow, also known as a secondary rainbow, occurs when a second arc hovers above the first. The second arc has the order of its colors reversed.

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A double rainbow occurs when light is refracted, or bent in a different direction, more than once inside of a raindrop. The second rainbow is almost twice as wide, but only about half as bright. The colors are backwards from right to left, meaning they go from red to violet.

"Light refracted within raindrops can follow one of two different paths. The shortest path gives the primary rainbow. The longer second path leads to the secondary (double) bow, which has the color pattern flipped," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews.

The end result of this process is "spectacular," as one social media user pointed out on Tuesday.

Social media blew up with users sharing their perspectives of last evening's phenomenon -- everyone from news anchors to the former CEO of Nintendo North America to Michael Galanin, an astronomy enthusiast who runs the Space Explorer Mike Twitter account, who declared it "the most perfect rainbow I've ever seen." Galanin shared a reddit user’s shot of the stunning spectacle.

Some social media users took the double rainbow as a sign from the universe.

Interior Designer Kathleen Glossa was finishing up at a client's home in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Seattle, when the group noticed the double rainbow.

"Words... I’m not sure I have them, I keep waiting for the bursting feeling in my chest to stop," Glossa writes in an Instagram post. "We start to wrap up and look outside as the light suddenly changes. I can’t process this shot (my client’s) without reliving the memory of the five of us out there soaking up a double full rainbow together."

Glossa shared an image that her client, Lori Hansen, captured of the double rainbow.

"I’m going to choose to see this as my own personal note from the universe to keep on keeping on in this chosen path of helping others create the homes of their dreams," Glossa writes.

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